Army

The name given to a collection of two or more Corps, acting together under the overall command of a General.

 

Army Group

A group of two or more armies, united under the command of a Field Marshal.

 

Battalion

An infantry unit containing between 500-800 men, and commanded by a Lieutenant-Colonel.

 

Bren Carrier

See Bren gun and Universal Carrier.

 

Bren gun

A Light Machine Gun, an essential support weapon carried by every British and Canadian platoon.

 

Brigade

A formation of two or more Battalions acting together under the overall command of a Brigadier.

 

Brigade Group

A Brigade with attached support units; e.g. medical staff, engineers, and anti-tank gunners.

 

CO

Commanding Officer.

 

Company

A subdivision of a Battalion, commanded by a Major and consisting of approximately 120 men. Parachute Battalions consisted of three rifle companies (normally designated A, B, and C) and an HQ and Support Company - the latter consisting of specialist groups such as Machine Gun and Mortar Platoons. Airlanding companies, as with all other mainstream infantry, had an extra rifle company within their ranks. Also, whereas parachute companies had three platoons within these companies, other infantry units carried four.

 

Corps

A formation of two or more Divisions acting together as a self-contained unit under the overall command of a Lieutenant-General. An Airborne Corps would consist of a number of Airborne Divisions, coupled with assigned Air Force Groups dedicated to their transport and resupply. Whereas a standard ground-based Corps would consist of a Division or more of tanks and other armoured vehicles, numerous infantry Divisions, additional transport vehicles, and supporting artillery.

 

Division

A formation of two or more Brigades and assorted supporting units (e.g. artillery, engineers) acting together as one force under the command of a Major-General. Typically a Division would consist of 10,000 men.

 

Drop Zone

An area of land designated for the dropping of parachutists.

 

Landing Zone

An area designated for the landing of gliders.

 

Lee-Enfield MkIV

Standard British infantry rifle.

 

LMG

Light Machine Gun, such as the Bren gun.

 

MO

Medical Officer.

 

NCO

Non-Commissioned Officer. Such as sergeants or corporals.

 

O-Group

Order Group. A commander may order an O-Group to assemble all of his subalterns to give them their orders.

 

OP

Observation Post.

 

Platoon

Three platoons existed within a Parachute Company, four in an Airlanding or normal infantry battalion, and each was commanded by a Lieutenant. Platoons could consist of as many as 60 soldiers, though the glider-borne units were designed so that they could be transported in a single Horsa glider, and therefore consisted of 26 men. Parachute platoons were somewhat larger.

 

RA

Royal Artillery.

 

RAF

Royal Air Force.

 

RAMC

Royal Army Medical Corps.

 

RAOC

Royal Army Ordnance Corps.

 

RAP

Regimental Aid Post.

 

RASC

Royal Army Service Corps.

 

RE

Royal Engineers.

 

REME

Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers.

 

Roman Candle

A term used to describe a parachute that has failed to fully open. This condition would normally arise from a poorly packed chute which, though a highly unlikely eventuality, would cause the parachutist to plummet to his death.

 

Sapper

The ordinary infantryman (Private) of the Royal Engineers.

 

Slit trench

The name given to a one-man trench that infantrymen dig with the shovels they carry. Providing the ground is soft, a trench can be quickly dug so that a single man can place his body as much beneath the level of earth as possible. Not only does this make the man a harder target during gunfights, but it greatly reduces the chance of injury from artillery bombardment.

 

Sten

Sub-machine gun, usually carried by British officers and NCO's.

 

Stick

The collective term used to describe a group of parachutists in a single aircraft, as in "a stick of paratroopers".

 

Universal Carrier

A tracked and lightly armoured vehicle used by the British for, as its name implies, a number of duties from transport of men and supplies, to a weapons platform for mortars or, more commonly, the Bren Carrier, mounting a Bren light machine gun.

 

Very light

Flare pistol.

 

Wehrmacht

German army forces, not including the SS.